AI-powered Startup Wins First Place at MTSU’s 2024 High School Entrepreneurship Fair

High school sophomores Aditya Dwivedi, Anirudh Kodukula, and Karunya Vudattula of Murfreesboro’s Central Magnet School took home the first-place award for their business called Fresh Check during MTSU’s 2024 High School Entrepreneurship Fair, held Tuesday, Feb. 20, in the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by Johari Hamilton)

Competing against dozens of other fellow Midstate high school students showcasing their best business startup ideas, three sophomores from Murfreesboro’s Central Magnet School tapped into the growing use of artificial intelligence to capture first place at Middle Tennessee State University’s 2024 High School Entrepreneurship Fair.

Aditya Dwivedi, Anirudh Kodukula, and Karunya Vudattula presented their business called Fresh Check, an AI-powered concept that uses algorithms to reduce global food waste, at the fair held Tuesday, Feb. 20, in the Student Union Ballroom and hosted by the Department of Management and the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business.

“Machine learning is the core of this product,” Dwivedi said. “Machine learning revolutionizes the food industry, allowing us to make predictions and suggestions beforehand to combat food spoilage.”

“According to our research, 1.3 billion tons are wasted, and $1,600 per family is wasted, and we can’t afford to do this anymore,” said Kodukula. “With Fresh Check, we believe we can combat this issue at the root of the problem.”

Display boards featuring various businesses filled the Student Union Ballroom, where approximately 100 students comprised 60 groups and competed from various Middle Tennessee high schools.

In addition to creating cardboard displays outlining their business concept, competitors had to develop written business plans that included a description of their products and services, financial projections, marketing, target market and business support network.

The first round of competition featured five sets of 12 teams competing in elevator pitches and judge interaction. The best group in each set of 12 was announced as a finalist during lunch. Those five finalists returned to the ballroom to present again in the final round of competition.

Amongst the five finalists were Jacob Dykstra and John Lee. The Franklin High School juniors showcased JJ’s Outdoor Services, a full-service landscaping business offering various outdoor services since August 2023.

“Participating in this event is important to me because it’s a display of many businesses,” said Dykstra. “I know all the kids here are very hard workers, and we’re like the top of our class in entrepreneurship, so being here is very valuable, and I really admire everyone.”

Anna Riley, a junior from Brentwood High School, and Eli Lami, a junior from Centennial High School, were also amongst the finalists to showcase their business called Hidden Adventures, which specializes in pre-made birthday party kits and scavenger hunts for children and adults.

“It’s a great event. We’ve got some great feedback from the judges, and it’s just good exposure overall,” said Lami. “I love doing this more than I like pitching on a stage. It’s much more stress-free, and you get one-on-one conversations and meet many different people.”

The Jennings and Rebecca Jones Foundation sponsored the fair as part of MTSU’s Global Entrepreneurship Week activities.

“The MTSU Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program would like to thank the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Foundation for sponsoring the spring 2024 High School Entrepreneurship Fair,” said Joshua Aaron, Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship, and director of the Family Business Institute Department of Management for the Jones College of Business.

Fifteen judges, including professors from the Jones College of Business and local business leaders, selected first-place through fifth-place winners. Prizes ranged from $500 to $100. The top five finishers were announced along with seven category winners at the closing ceremony.

MTSU’s Department of Management offers undergraduate courses in management, human resource management, supply chain management, not-for-profit management, business administration, business innovation and entrepreneurship, and leadership.

MTSU students who major in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship can earn a Bachelor of Business Administration upon successful completion of program requirements.

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